With world population booming, finding a way to safely and efficiently weed massive fields of crops is no easy task, currently requiring either massive amounts of herbicide or armies of workers who can contaminate crops, but technology may soon have an answer to the dainty dilemma of the dandelion.
The “Lettuce-Bot” designed by Blue River Technology can rid iceberg and romaine lettuce fields of dandelions with incredible skill and fertilize desirable crops at the same time.
The latest iteration of the Lettuce Bot will eventually be pulled behind a trailer through the fields at speeds up to 3 MPH (the current prototype does it at a third of that speed). It relies on a trio of visual algorithms. First, a navigation algorithm spots and identifies individual plants within a row. Next, the classify algorithm discerns lettuce from common weeds with ~98-percent accuracy (the system does this by comparing what it sees to a large library of pre-identified visual data on what iceberg, romaine, and dandelions look like.) Finally, it engages the kill algorithm, which allows the machine to accurately inject the lethal load of fertilizer into a weed’s root system by estimating the needle’s subsoil depth.
Though there are still plenty of bugs to be worked out in the process, the end result could be better for the planet as well as more cost effective for farmers, and when put that way, who doesn’t love the taste of green?
Full story at Gizmodo.
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